Wednesday, January 28, 2015

On Christians, LGBTs, hypocrisy, homophobia, and tolerance.

*The first paragraph of this post was updated after the June 2015 Supreme Court ruling. All other parts of this post remain unchanged*

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. the LDS Church/Mormons) has released a statement in response to the June Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage with a link to a much more detailed article on the topic (You may view it here). As always, such statements cause controversy. In it, church leaders addressed many things that had to do with LGBT rights, religious rights, and the effects of same-sex marriage on society. As expected, the responses were either on one side of the pendulum or the other: Either 100% support or 100% "bigoted," "hypocrites," or the ever-so-outdated (as in, over a century) "they can have tons of wives, can't they?!"

I found that those who were screaming at the Church don't really know much about how the Church does things and views the institution of marriage.

I would like to clarify those views.

Here are some facts about marriage in the Church:
  1. We believe that while civil marriages are recognized by the laws of the land and the Church, the only marriage that God will uphold in the hereafter is the one realized in an LDS temple.
  2. Just because you're a heterosexual Mormon doesn't mean you can get married in a temple. In order to marry in a temple, one must be worthy to enter.  
  3. An unmarried heterosexual couple that is co-habitating or sexually active is not worthy of a temple marriage. They may marry civilly in a chapel of the LDS Church (or wherever they please for that matter), but if they desire to have that marriage recognized by God in the hereafter, they must still prepare for and participate in a temple marriage at a later time.
    1. Please note: there are other things that can disqualify you from the temple, but as those things aren't the purpose of this post, I will not include them here.

Here's the part that causes controversy: Marriage in either a temple or an LDS chapel may only be realized if said union is between a man and a woman. Homosexual marriage is not recognized by the Church and is seen as immoral.

Here's why:

We believe that marriage is not an institution of Man. It was given to mankind by God because the family is the basic unit of not only this world, but the next as well. In other words, we believe that the institution of marriage is eternal, not a man-made contract that is simply "until death do you part."

We believe that biological sex is necessary because the sexes have things that only they can contribute to life. Even basic human anatomy shows that in romantic relationships, men and women are meant to be together. There's a reason that multiple studies have shown women to truly be the "tender gender"(unless her family is being threatened) and that men are generally more aggressive across all cultures: There must be a yin to the yang, opposites that compliment each other and make a whole. This has been true since the dawn of time and is seen among every species on the Earth.

That is not a coincidence.

Even the Hebrew name for God, Elohim, is a plural word. In Genesis 1:26-27, it says "And God [Elohim] said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. . . . So God [Elohim] created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (emphasis added)" Adam was created in the image of God the father, who is a male, and unless something has drastically changed, a woman's anatomy is not in the image of the man's anatomy. The scripture states that Adam and Eve were created in their image and their likeness. In addition to God the father, there is a goddess, a female, a mother--after whose image Eve was created.

The man and woman together are essential in the eternal perspective that the Church holds.

We know that both heterosexuals and homosexuals have strong sexual urges. We believe that these urges are good! We also believe that they are sacred (special), as they can be used for the divine creation of an innocent child. Thus, in the Church, all members are expected to abstain from doing anything to desecrate this sacred ability. This includes anything that over-stimulates the private parts of the body outside of marriage. Even within marriage, masturbation (self-stimulation) is completely immoral.

In understanding that
  1. A man and woman together are necessary in the divine plan, 
  2. The institution of marriage is eternal, and 
  3. The powers which can be used for procreation are only to be stimulated and used within that eternal institution,
it becomes easier to understand the Church's standpoint on same-sex marriage.

We don't hate people in the LGBT community.

We don't hate people who support same-sex marriage.

We welcome all people to our church meetings and activities without regard to race, religion, gender, or sexual discrimination. Fun fact: Before women and blacks had any civil rights, they were holding positions of authority in the church, giving public sermons, praying, etc.

Yet we have been charged with being hypocritical, homophobic, and intolerant

Let's talk about hypocrisy.

I personally don't understand how someone (homo- or heterosexual) can confidently vote in favor of abortion, but be against murder. To me, that's hypocrisy.

Some would disagree.

I don't understand why there are so many places for LGBTs to marry and get their wedding cakes, yet some choose to file law suits against those who won't...all the while preaching tolerance. To me, that's hypocrisy.

Some would disagree.

I don't understand why some people say they believe in moral relativity, saying "You can do what you want" and then turn around and say "But if I disagree with what you choose to do, I'm gonna make your life miserable." To me, that's hypocrisy.

Even then, some would disagree.

In the end, everyone's a hypocrite to someone.

Let's talk about homophobia.

Let's also remember that as an active participant in psychology, I am very aware of what words within my chosen field mean.

Homophobia comes from the words homosexual and phobia (fear). It is defined as an irrational fear or aversion to homosexuals. Other actions (like discrimination) may result because of said fear or aversion, but said actions are not officially part of the definition.

I don't know many members of my religion (or many people in general, for that matter) who are even slightly afraid of or actively try to avoid association with people in the LGBT community. Most of us have friends who are part of that group. We know that you're people. Like all people, you have views and beliefs that differ from the views and beliefs of others. 

However, because more and more LGBTs are attacking Christian organizations and business owners with Christian beliefs, one could begin to infer that many LGBTs have religiophobia. It's defined as an irrational fear of religion, and other actions (like law suits against Christian people and businesses) may result because of said fear. 

Can we throw the phobia card out the window already? No one's actually afraid of anyone in this situation.

Let's talk about intolerance.

Tolerance is defined as allowing the existence or occurrence or something you dislike without interference.   

Christians who own public businesses are being attacked more often by offended extremist members of the LGBT community because of their beliefs. While all this is happening, other obviously public businesses like Target and Home Depot are giving money to and supporting the same-sex marriage battle. Do you see Christians up in arms about this? No.

Why is that?

Because we believe that in the United States of America, we are free to believe, do, and support what we want as long as it doesn't infringe on another's safety. If we are bothered or offended by what public entities believe, do, or support, we will simply stop giving them our business. We won't tell them that they have to remain publicly neutral or else.

As blogger Matt Walsh so eloquently stated, no one is constitutionally protected from unhurt feelings.

In the USA, religions also have the right to freely express and maintain their beliefs as long as said beliefs don't infringe on another's safety. Regardless of your sexual orientation, if you have an issue with something a religion teaches, you have the right to not associate with it. That's a privilege associated with living in this country: no one has the right to force you to believe something. 

In the USA, we are allowed to vote. Tolerance comes when we accept the fact that we are going to vote differently. Despite the voice of the people in many states exercising their right to vote, appeals were made and now same-sex marriage is allowed in many states. This now begs us to wonder, "It seems like that decision was going to be made anyway. Was the majority genuinely exercising their right to vote on that topic, or has voting just become political red tape?" After all, why let the voice of the people speak through a legal vote when a court on the other side of the country has the right to overturn it? 

But that doesn't seem to matter anymore. The decision had been made and Christians will tolerate it, but only until it infringes on our houses of worship. 

The majority of Christians doesn't want to start a war with the LGBT community. I don't think that the majority of the LGBT community wants to start a war with Christians, either. So how about we all agree to exercise more tolerance because let's be real here: we will always disagree on this one. Can we be willing to let others live their beliefs while we live ours, even on voting day when our votes will contradict each other?

A little respect goes a long way. 

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